Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

The exhibition is made possible by The Martin Guitar Company.

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Sunday at the Met—Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

Program information

Learn how Christian Frederick Martin created a uniquely American form of the guitar and, through the company he founded, influenced 180 years of American music. With performances by Douglas Back and Thom Bresh on historic and modern Martin guitars.

Welcome and Introduction:
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Early American Guitars: Unlocking the Mystery, Parts 1 and 2"
Peter Szego, independent historian

Doug Back
Thom Bresh

Recorded March 16, 2014

Early American Guitars

The Instruments of C. F. Martin

January 14–December 7, 2014

Purchase advance tickets to avoid waiting in admission lines. Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

Christian Frederick Martin, founder of the great American guitar firm C. F. Martin & Co., was the son of a cabinetmaker in Markneukirchen, Saxony. Martin learned to build instruments from the famed Johann Georg Stauffer in Vienna. Due to the restrictive guilds in Markneukirchen, Martin moved to the United States in 1833, settling first in New York City and later moving to Nazareth, Pennsylvania. In the United States, Martin encountered the Spanish-style guitar and incorporated elements from that tradition into his own Viennese style of instrument construction. The result was a new form of the guitar, a style that would become important as a basis for other American makers of the instrument. This exhibition includes approximately thirty-five instruments from the Martin Museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and several private collections.

Read related blog posts on Of Note, the Musical Instruments Department's blog.